NELSON TRAILS

 

Dun Mountain Trail

(Coppermine Trail)

Dun Mountain Trail is one of the must-do rides in Nelson. The trail follows the alignment of the historic Dun Mountain Railway, New Zealand’s first railway, which was in operation between 1862 and 1901 to transport chromite extracted from mines on the eastern slopes of Wooded Peak. The trail ventures through the dramatic landscape of the Dun Mountain Mineral Belt, which is characterised by stunted vegetation and reddish-brown ultramafic rocks. It has become a popular mountain-biking circuit and is included as one of New Zealand’s Great Rides. Its appeal stems from the fascinating landscape it traverses, as well as its achievable length and ability to be completed from central Nelson. Dun Mountain Trail also provides access to Rocks Hut and Te Araroa Trail, and passes through the trail riding areas of Codgers MTB Park and Fringed Hill.

Details (Full Circuit)
Length38.7 km return circuit to start of Codgers Track (via Tantragee Saddle); 2.9 km Nelson Visitor Centre to start of Codgers; 6.2 km Maitai Motor Camp to Nelson Visitor Centre
Time Required3-4 hr for MTB
Trail TypeShared track
Physical DifficultyModerate      to Hard   
Technical DifficultyIntermediate   
UsesWalking, trail running and MTB
DirectionBrook Valley start for MTB, either for walkers and trail runners
Max Elevation878 m
Dog AccessDogs are prohibited on Dun Mountain Trail

Access

  5 min from central Nelson (Brook Valley) | 10 min from central Nelson (Maitai Valley car park)

 

The name ‘Coppermine Trail‘ applies to the entire return circuit to the start of Codgers Track in Brook Valley. This distinguishes it from Dun Mountain Trail; the latter officially starts at the beginning of Codgers Track and officially ends at Smiths Ford in Maitai Valley. Coppermine Trail also includes the 5.4 km Maitai Valley section between Smiths Ford and Tantragee Saddle, so in other words, Dun Mountain Trail is still Dun Mountain Trail, while Coppermine Trail encompasses Dun Mountain Trail and more.

 

Dun Mountain Trail can be completed as a full circuit or in sections. As it links with many other tracks on the surrounding ridges and valleys, routes of varying length and difficulty can be created. Given the length of the trail, there are multiple locations you can start from. A full circuit is best ridden in an anti-clockwise direction, i.e. starting in Brook Valley, as you can take advantage of the gentle gradient of the former rail alignment, though if you’re on foot either direction is fine. The three main sections of the trail are Brook Valley to Third House, Third House to Coppermine Saddle and Coppermine Saddle to Smiths Ford (Maitai Valley). While classed as a Great Ride, the trail is just as popular among walkers and trail runners; bikers should always be cautious of people on foot and should give way to them, particularly when descending at speed. Dogs are prohibited on the trail.

 

Starting in Brook Valley

The official starting point of Dun Mountain Trail is the beginning of Codgers Track, which follows the historic rail incline and doubles as one of the main entrances to Codgers MTB Park. Codgers Track begins on the left side of Brook St, partway up Brook Valley and is a 10 min ride from central Nelson. If you’re driving to the start, you can park on the street adjacent to Codgers Track (limited spaces), or continue a further 800 m up Brook St and turn left immediately after the bridge across The Brook. Head past the first car park to the next car park called Andrews Farm, where you will find toilets and bike washing facilities. From the car park follow the signposts the short distance to Codgers Track. If you’re on foot, you can also climb the walkway that heads straight uphill from the first car park (this option is steeper but saves 1.5 km).

 

Starting in Maitai Valley

From central Nelson, head up Maitai Valley Rd for about 5 km and turn right into the signposted car park before Maitai Motor Camp. From here Coppermine Trail follows a gravel road up the eastern side of Tantragee Saddle to connect with Dun Mountain Trail just over the other side. Alternatively, after crossing Maitai River, turn left onto Maitai River Walkway, then right onto Te Ara Kōpoki, which is a shared use track that also climbs to Tantragee Saddle (at a gentler gradient). Note that Te Ara Kōpiki is for uphill riding only.

 

Starting at Maitai Dam

Trail runners and walkers can just as easily complete Dun Mountain Trail in a clockwise direction. To do this, the best place to start is the car park next to Maitai Dam, which is 11 km up Maitai Valley Rd from Central Nelson. This is also the starting point for return trips to Dun Mountain summit or Coppermine Saddle, (see Dun Mountain Circuit for more details).

Safety

Dun Mountain Trail reaches an elevation of 878 m at Coppermine Saddle. Whilst not alpine, the sparsely-vegetated mineral belt is very exposed, and Windy Point often lives up to its name. The eastern slope of Wells Ridge between Windy Point and Coppermine Saddle receives little sunlight in winter, and consequently the track can be icy. Make sure you are prepared with warm layers. Mobile phone coverage is patchy between Maitai Motor Camp and Third House.

 

Though classed as a Great Ride, Dun Mountain Trail is a shared track that is popular among walkers and trail runners; please ride accordingly, and be respectful of all trail users.

 

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Dun Mountain Trail
(Coppermine Trail)

Dun Mountain Trail is one of the must-do rides in Nelson. The trail follows the alignment of the historic Dun Mountain Railway, New Zealand’s first railway, which was in operation between 1862 and 1901 to transport chromite extracted from mines on the eastern slopes of Wooded Peak. The trail ventures through the dramatic landscape of the Dun Mountain Mineral Belt, which is characterised by stunted vegetation and reddish-brown ultramafic rocks. It has become a popular mountain-biking circuit and is included as one of New Zealand’s Great Rides. Its appeal stems from the fascinating landscape it traverses, as well as its achievable length and ability to be completed from central Nelson. Dun Mountain Trail also provides access to Rocks Hut and Te Araroa Trail, and passes through the trail riding areas of Codgers MTB Park and Fringed Hill.

Details (Full Circuit)
Length38.7 km return circuit to start of Codgers Track (via Tantragee Saddle); 2.9 km Nelson Visitor Centre to start of Codgers; 6.2 km Maitai Motor Camp to Nelson Visitor Centre
Time Required3-4 hr for MTB
Trail TypeShared track
Physical DifficultyModerate      to Hard   
Technical DifficultyIntermediate   
UsesWalking, trail running and MTB
DirectionBrook Valley start for MTB, either for walkers and trail runners
Max Elevation878 m
Dog AccessDogs are prohibited on Dun Mountain Trail


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Access

  5 min from central Nelson (Brook Valley) | 10 min from central Nelson (Maitai Valley car park)

 

The name ‘Coppermine Trail‘ applies to the entire return circuit to the start of Codgers Track in Brook Valley. This distinguishes it from Dun Mountain Trail; the latter officially starts at the beginning of Codgers Track and officially ends at Smiths Ford in Maitai Valley. Coppermine Trail also includes the 5.4 km Maitai Valley section between Smiths Ford and Tantragee Saddle, so in other words, Dun Mountain Trail is still Dun Mountain Trail, while Coppermine Trail encompasses Dun Mountain Trail and more.

 

Dun Mountain Trail can be completed as a full circuit or in sections. As it links with many other tracks on the surrounding ridges and valleys, routes of varying length and difficulty can be created. Given the length of the trail, there are multiple locations you can start from. A full circuit is best ridden in an anti-clockwise direction, i.e. starting in Brook Valley, as you can take advantage of the gentle gradient of the former rail alignment, though if you’re on foot either direction is fine. The three main sections of the trail are Brook Valley to Third House, Third House to Coppermine Saddle and Coppermine Saddle to Smiths Ford (Maitai Valley). While classed as a Great Ride, the trail is just as popular among walkers and trail runners; bikers should always be cautious of people on foot and should give way to them, particularly when descending at speed. Dogs are prohibited on the trail.

 

Starting in Brook Valley

The official starting point of Dun Mountain Trail is the beginning of Codgers Track, which follows the historic rail incline and doubles as one of the main entrances to Codgers MTB Park. Codgers Track begins on the left side of Brook St, partway up Brook Valley and is a 10 min ride from central Nelson. If you’re driving to the start, you can park on the street adjacent to Codgers Track (limited spaces), or continue a further 800 m up Brook St and turn left immediately after the bridge across The Brook. Head past the first car park to the next car park called Andrews Farm, where you will find toilets and bike washing facilities. From the car park follow the signposts the short distance to Codgers Track. If you’re on foot, you can also climb the walkway that heads straight uphill from the first car park (this option is steeper but saves 1.5 km).

 

Starting in Maitai Valley

From central Nelson, head up Maitai Valley Rd for about 5 km and turn right into the signposted car park before Maitai Motor Camp. From here Coppermine Trail follows a gravel road up the eastern side of Tantragee Saddle to connect with Dun Mountain Trail just over the other side. Alternatively, after crossing Maitai River, turn left onto Maitai River Walkway, then right onto Te Ara Kōpoki, which is a shared use track that also climbs to Tantragee Saddle (at a gentler gradient). Note that Te Ara Kōpiki is for uphill riding only.

 

Starting at Maitai Dam

Trail runners and walkers can just as easily complete Dun Mountain Trail in a clockwise direction. To do this, the best place to start is the car park next to Maitai Dam, which is 11 km up Maitai Valley Rd from Central Nelson. This is also the starting point for return trips to Dun Mountain summit or Coppermine Saddle, (see Dun Mountain Circuit for more details).

Safety

Dun Mountain Trail reaches an elevation of 878 m at Coppermine Saddle. Whilst not alpine, the sparsely-vegetated mineral belt is very exposed, and Windy Point often lives up to its name. The eastern slope of Wells Ridge between Windy Point and Coppermine Saddle receives little sunlight in winter, and consequently the track can be icy. Make sure you are prepared with warm layers. Mobile phone coverage is patchy between Maitai Motor Camp and Third House.

 

Though classed as a Great Ride, Dun Mountain Trail is a shared track that is popular among walkers and trail runners; please ride accordingly, and be respectful of all trail users.

Dun Mountain Trail

Brook Valley to Third House

Details
Distances (to Third House)11.2 km via Codgers Track; 9.7 km via walkway from car park; 11.2 km from Maitai car park
Time Required2 hr 30 min-3 hr (one way, walking)
Trail TypeShared track
Physical DifficultyModerate   
Technical DifficultyIntermediate   
UsesWalking, trail running and MTB
DirectionEither
Start Elevation45 m (Brook Valley)
Finish Elevation660 m
Dog AccessDogs are prohibited on Dun Mountain Trail


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Connections

Codgers MTB Park

  MTB

Fringed Hill

   Walking, trail running and MTB

Jenkins Hill (via sanctuary fenceline)

   Walking, trail running and MTB

Description

Begin by heading up Codgers Track, which follows the historic rail alignment from the side of Brook St. This will take you along the bottom of Codgers MTB Park and nearly to the top of Tantragee Saddle. Alternatively you can begin at the car park at the start of Tantragee Road, where a walkway climbs uphill for 1 km to link with the original rail alignment.

 

The trail steadily gains elevation along the western flank of Fringed Hill, passing through plantation forestry and gullies of native bush. As the track follows the rail alignment, the gradient is gentle. At Bullock Spur there is a good lookout and picnic spot, and at the head of the following gully (Cummins Creek) is the site of First House. After 4.5 km you’ll reach the intersection known as ‘Four Corners’ where the decent from Fringed Hill connects on the left and Brook-Waimarama Sanctuary fence line drops down to the floor of Brook Valley.

 

After Four Corners the trail enters native forest and continues on the uphill side of Brook-Waimarama Sanctuary. The trail crosses a large slip that has caused issues over the last few years. The steep hillside means it will likely continue to cause occasional closures and force detours along the sanctuary fence line. The trail continues through a few railway cuttings and past the site of Second House. Third House is 4.3 km beyond Four Corners, on a point on the ridge once known as Wairoa Saddle. The existing shelter is not the original building; the latter was used as a workshop for the railway and storage depot. Third House is also the connection point for the sanctuary fence line road, which you can follow through to Jenkins Hill and Marsden Valley.

Dun Mountain Trail
Brook Valley to Third House
Details
Distances (to Third House)11.2 km via Codgers Track; 9.7 km via walkway from car park; 11.2 km from Maitai car park
Time Required2 hr 30 min-3 hr (one way, walking)
Trail TypeShared track
Physical DifficultyModerate   
Technical DifficultyIntermediate   
UsesWalking, trail running and MTB
DirectionEither
Start Elevation45 m (Brook Valley)
Finish Elevation660 m
Dog AccessDogs are prohibited on Dun Mountain Trail


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Description

Begin by heading up Codgers Track, which follows the historic rail alignment from the side of Brook St. This will take you along the bottom of Codgers MTB Park and nearly to the top of Tantragee Saddle. Alternatively you can begin at the car park at the start of Tantragee Road, where a walkway climbs uphill for 1 km to link with the original rail alignment.

 

The trail steadily gains elevation along the western flank of Fringed Hill, passing through plantation forestry and gullies of native bush. As the track follows the rail alignment, the gradient is gentle. At Bullock Spur there is a good lookout and picnic spot, and at the head of the following gully (Cummins Creek) is the site of First House. After 4.5 km you’ll reach the intersection known as ‘Four Corners’ where the decent from Fringed Hill connects on the left and Brook-Waimarama Sanctuary fence line drops down to the floor of Brook Valley.

 

After Four Corners the trail enters native forest and continues on the uphill side of Brook-Waimarama Sanctuary. The trail crosses a large slip that has caused issues over the last few years. The steep hillside means it will likely continue to cause occasional closures and force detours along the sanctuary fence line. The trail continues through a few railway cuttings and past the site of Second House. Third House is 4.3 km beyond Four Corners, on a point on the ridge once known as Wairoa Saddle. The existing shelter is not the original building; the latter was used as a workshop for the railway and storage depot. Third House is also the connection point for the sanctuary fence line road, which you can follow through to Jenkins Hill and Marsden Valley.

Connections

Codgers MTB Park

MTB

Fringed Hill

Walking, trail running and MTB

Jenkins Hill (via sanctuary fenceline)

Walking, trail running and MTB

Dun Mountain Trail

Third House to Coppermine Saddle

Details
Length6.3 km
Time Required1 hr 30 min-2 hr (one way, walking)
Trail TypeShared track
Physical DifficultyModerate   
Technical DifficultyIntermediate   
UsesWalking, trail running and MTB
DirectionEither
Start Elevation660 m
Finish Elevation878 m
Dog AccessDogs are prohibited on Dun Mountain Trail


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Description

Beyond Third House the trail continues to Junction Saddle (682 m). This is the eastern end of Black Diamond Ridge Track, which heads back along the crest of the ridge to Fringed Hill (and gives access to Sunrise Ridge). Wooded Peak Track also begins at Junction Saddle, climbing Wooded Peak (1111 m) and connecting back to Dun Mountain Trail at Windy Point.

 

Soon after Junction Saddle the site of an 1863 lime kiln is passed. The kiln extracted limestone from an exposed section of the Wooded Peak limestone formation that the trail crosses. The site of Fourth House is 3.1 km beyond Junction Saddle and soon after the beech forest transitions to the coarse scrub of the mineral belt. Windy Point (845 m) is a few hundred metres later, where Wooded Peak Track connects from the left. The stunted vegetation allows expansive views south across the mineral belt. Most of the chromite mines were located either side of the trail between Windy Point and Coppermine Saddle. The most obvious remaining evidence of the mining works are the spoil piles, though you may also spot some of the surviving railway sleepers beneath your wheels (or feet). The trail crosses several rock chutes, with many boulders precariously positioned on the uphill side of the track.

 

Coppermine Saddle (878 m) is 1.1 km from Windy Point. Here there is a track junction that gives access to Dun Saddle, Dun Mountain Summit, Rocks Hut and Te Araroa Trail. There is a toilet and a signpost indicating the times and distances to the next locations. Coppermine Saddle is the furthest point the railway was constructed to.

Dun Mountain Trail
Third House to Coppermine Saddle
Details
Length6.3 km
Time Required1 hr 30 min-2 hr (one way, walking)
Trail TypeShared track
Physical DifficultyModerate   
Technical DifficultyIntermediate   
UsesWalking, trail running and MTB
DirectionEither
Start Elevation660 m
Finish Elevation878 m
Dog AccessDogs are prohibited on Dun Mountain Trail


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Description

Beyond Third House the trail continues to Junction Saddle (682 m). This is the eastern end of Black Diamond Ridge Track, which heads back along the crest of the ridge to Fringed Hill (and gives access to Sunrise Ridge). Wooded Peak Track also begins at Junction Saddle, climbing Wooded Peak (1111 m) and connecting back to Dun Mountain Trail at Windy Point.

 

Soon after Junction Saddle the site of an 1863 lime kiln is passed. The kiln extracted limestone from an exposed section of the Wooded Peak limestone formation that the trail crosses. The site of Fourth House is 3.1 km beyond Junction Saddle and soon after the beech forest transitions to the coarse scrub of the mineral belt. Windy Point (845 m) is a few hundred metres later, where Wooded Peak Track connects from the left. The stunted vegetation allows expansive views south across the mineral belt. Most of the chromite mines were located either side of the trail between Windy Point and Coppermine Saddle. The most obvious remaining evidence of the mining works are the spoil piles, though you may also spot some of the surviving railway sleepers beneath your wheels (or feet). The trail crosses several rock chutes, with many boulders precariously positioned on the uphill side of the track.

 

Coppermine Saddle (878 m) is 1.1 km from Windy Point. Here there is a track junction that gives access to Dun Saddle, Dun Mountain Summit, Rocks Hut and Te Araroa Trail. There is a toilet and a signpost indicating the times and distances to the next locations. Coppermine Saddle is the furthest point the railway was constructed to.

Dun Mountain Trail

Coppermine Saddle to Maitai Valley

Details
Distances10 km Coppermine Saddle to Maitai Dam; 3.8 km Maitai Dam to Smiths Ford; Smiths Ford; 7.6 km Maitai Dam to start of Codgers via Tantragee Saddle
Time Required2-3 hr (one way, walking)
Trail TypeShared track
Physical DifficultyModerate  
Technical DifficultyIntermediate   
UsesWalking, trail running and MTB
DirectionDownhill for MTB, either for walkers and runners
Start Elevation878 m
Finish Elevation120 m (Maitai Dam), 90 m (Smiths Ford), or 5 m (central Nelson)
Dog AccessDogs are prohibited on Dun Mountain Trail


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Connections

Dun Mountain Circuit

  Walking and trail running

Maitai Cave

  Walking

Maungatapu Circuit

  Walking and trail running

Tantragee Saddle and Codgers MTB Park

   Trail running and MTB

Teal Saddle and Central Road (Hira Forest)

   Trail running and MTB

Description

From Coppermine Saddle the trail descends through a small patch of beech forest and sidles the western flank of Dun Mountain. The original tramping track between Maitai Dam and the forks to Coppermine Saddle was best described as a ‘rock garden’, with large boulders, deep ruts and drainage channels on the trail edges making for a technical and bone-rattling descent. When its riding potential was realised a decade ago, the trail was smoothed and realigned to lessen the gradient, which now sees it flowing through numerous zig-zags as it descends into the valley of the Maitai River South Branch. Despite these improvements, the descent from Coppermine Saddle still requires a reasonable level of technical ability. Bikers should be very cautious of walkers through this section.

 

Instead of crossing the footbridge, continue along Dun Mountain Trail on the true left of the Maitai River, as it follows the city’s water supply pipeline (built in 1963) back down the valley to Smiths Ford (3.8 km away). The trail maintains a consistent elevation alongside the pipeline, and gradually gains height relative to the river below. Not long after the footbridge turnoff the track sidles across an active rockslide face; when you cross this you will get an appreciation for why this section of the trail closes every so often due to slippage.

 

At Smiths Ford, Dun Mountain Trail drops down to Maitai Valley Road and officially ends. From here, follow the road down the valley to Maitai Motor Camp car park. From here, to get back to Brook Valley you can take Te Ara Kōpiko or Tantragee Saddle Road (follow the signposts from the car park). To get back to the city centre, you can take either Maitai Valley Walkway (as far as Clouston Bridge), which can be accessed across the river from the car park (follow the signposts). You can also continue down Maitai Valley Road.

Dun Mountain Trail
Coppermine Saddle to Maitai Valley
Details
Distances10 km Coppermine Saddle to Maitai Dam; 3.8 km Maitai Dam to Smiths Ford; Smiths Ford; 7.6 km Maitai Dam to start of Codgers via Tantragee Saddle
Time Required2-3 hr (one way, walking)
Trail TypeShared track
Physical DifficultyModerate  
Technical DifficultyIntermediate   
UsesWalking, trail running and MTB
DirectionDownhill for MTB, either for walkers and runners
Start Elevation878 m
Finish Elevation120 m (Maitai Dam), 90 m (Smiths Ford), or 5 m (central Nelson)
Dog AccessDogs are prohibited on Dun Mountain Trail


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Description

From Coppermine Saddle the trail descends through a small patch of beech forest and sidles the western flank of Dun Mountain. The original tramping track between Maitai Dam and the forks to Coppermine Saddle was best described as a ‘rock garden’, with large boulders, deep ruts and drainage channels on the trail edges making for a technical and bone-rattling descent. When its riding potential was realised a decade ago, the trail was smoothed and realigned to lessen the gradient, which now sees it flowing through numerous zig-zags as it descends into the valley of the Maitai River South Branch. Despite these improvements, the descent from Coppermine Saddle still requires a reasonable level of technical ability. Bikers should be very cautious of walkers through this section.

 

As the trail descends into the Maitai South Branch valley the vegetation transitions from mineral belt scrub to tall kānuka and then to beech and ferns. Cross the footbridge over Maitai South Branch where Maitai Cave Track connects on the left. Continue through beech forest alongside the river until the trail widens into a 4WD road. Peaking Ridge Track connects on the left (it is not signposted) and Bob Taylor Road soon after. From here it’s an easy 1 km back to the footbridge across to Maitai Valley Road car park.

 

Instead of crossing the footbridge, continue along Dun Mountain Trail on the true left of the Maitai River, as it follows the city’s water supply pipeline (built in 1963) back down the valley to Smiths Ford (3.8 km away). The trail maintains a consistent elevation alongside the pipeline, and gradually gains height relative to the river below. Not long after the footbridge turnoff the track sidles across an active rockslide face; when you cross this you will get an appreciation for why this section of the trail closes every so often due to slippage.

 

At Smiths Ford, Dun Mountain Trail drops down to Maitai Valley Road and officially ends. From here, follow the road down the valley to Maitai Motor Camp car park. From here, to get back to Brook Valley you can take Te Ara Kōpiko or Tantragee Saddle Road (follow the signposts from the car park). To get back to the city centre, you can take either Maitai Valley Walkway (as far as Clouston Bridge), which can be accessed across the river from the car park (follow the signposts). You can also continue down Maitai Valley Road.

Connections

Dun Mountain Circuit

Walking and trail running

Maitai Cave

Walking

Maungatapu Circuit

Walking and trail running

Tantragee Saddle and Codgers MTB Park

Walking, trail running and MTB

Teal Saddle and Central Road (Hira Forest)

Trail running and MTB

Updated 3 September 2019